Press Release December 2019
On the 23rd December 2019 at Bar Topolski on the Southbank at 5pm, English Cabaret will perform Dreams of Peace & Freedom to begin a year of commemorations, marking 75 years since the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials and 70 years since the signing of the European Convention on Human Rights, events linked by David Maxwell Fyfe, a Nuremberg prosecutor and part of the team who drafted the ECHR.
Why are we telling it now?
Martin Conway, the chair of the faculty of history at Oxford wrote in 2017:
'The more serious business of History too dances to the rhythms of anniversaries'
We are telling this story now to chime with two anniversaries in 2020.
On November 20th it is 75 years since the opening of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, whilst 6th it is 70 years since the signing of the European Convention on Human Rights. David Maxwell Fyfe played a leading role in both.
Who's telling it?
This story is being told by English Cabaret. We are a professional theatre group, but also members of Maxwell Fyfe’s family.
Sue Casson is a writer of music and lyrics, and a singer of songs.
She has played and sung on BBC radios 2, 3 and 4, and SKY TV and written music for BBC TV. Visit suecasson.co.uk to hear more. A Vivian Ellis Prize finalist, her musical adaptation, with Tom Blackmore, of Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince has toured nationwide, with a cast recording on CD (Dress Circle), whilst Tutankhamun All Wrapped Up, recorded with The Brannick Academy, has sold over 65,000 copies
Lily sang with Southwark Cathedral's Girls' Choir for 7 years, her time with them inspiring the score for Dreams of Peace & Freedom. Credits with the choir include appearances on BBC Radio 3 and BBC 1, and at the Royal Albert and Festival Halls. With English Cabaret she has played Pandora in The Happy Prince in Edinburgh, Dublin and London, as well as combining her twin passions for singing and baking into her cabaret persona, English Singing Baker. A keen photographer, Lily has taken many of the stills for Dreams of Peace & Freedom. Find out more at www.lilycasson.com.
For the last 8 years with English Cabaret, Robert has been learning his craft while creating and developing new work, both onstage and online. He has acted, filming and editing for English Cabaret YouTube channel, including making films for a woman, a piano and English Singing Baker. He has enjoyed being part of the collaboration, finding a new way of telling the story of David Maxwell Fyfe, with music, lyrics and images as well as playing his great grandfather, in Dreams of Peace & Freedom and in the accompanying film The Human's in the Telling.
A historian by training, Tom Blackmore is a maker of educational film and a creator of new work for the stage. He has worked on the archive of his grandfather’s personal papers for the past 20 years.
Why are we telling this story?
We are telling this story:
TO PROTECT RIGHTS
As the European Convention is threatened, The Humans in the Telling is the debris of the past from which to build a barricade. We will join with those working to halt the march of populism and nationalism with the raw facts of history.
The Humans in the Telling remembers events too easily forgotten.
It remembers the evidence of holocaust, murder and tyranny presented at Nuremberg. Why people fought in the Second World War, not to win, but to protect and restore peace, justice and freedom under the law. And it relates how the first hesitant steps to win the peace were taken in the trial of leading Nazis and in the drawing up of a continental code to keep the people safe.
We are very pleased and honoured to have been invited to contribute a commemorative candle artwork to feature as part of a national art exhibition - 75 MEMORIAL FLAMES organised by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. Each candle has been chosen to represent a year since the liberation of Auschwitz - Birkenau. Our candle is called Shining a light on the evidence at Nuremberg and is being realised by Doug McCoy. The exhibition will be unveiled at the UK Ceremony for Holocaust Memorial Day in London on 27 January 2020.
Looking at the future through the prism of the past is a way back to coherence and unity. It allows a reset of the mind.
The Humans in the Telling invites reflection on the response to the Second World War, the last time the nation was at war.
After the Second World War a movement that had grown underground for many years flowered. There was a passion for peace, an awakening to the need for natural justice, and an understanding that freedom could only be exercised under the law both at home and around the world.
We can reconnect and learn again that:
‘A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons’
What are we telling?
This is the story of a journey undertaken after a wartime of injury and heartache, by a self-styled romantic of the law, David Maxwell Fyfe. Between 1945 and 1950 he journeyed to wartorn and barren Europe to sow the seeds of natural justice in Nuremberg and natural law in Strasbourg. Those seeds blossomed into 75 years of peace and material progress.
How do we tell it?
We tell our story in a staged song-cycle, DREAMS OF PEACE & FREEDOM by Sue Casson.
‘In Dreams of Peace & Freedom, inspirational quotations from the speeches, letters and autobiography of David Maxwell Fyfe, naturally thread through musical settings of poetry he found inspiring. The melody infuses his chosen poetic words with another unspoken dimension – emotion to reinforce the story, rather as in his speeches, the poetry heightens the tenor of his legal argument.’
Sue Casson, composer of Dreams of Peace & Freedom
Each performance of DREAMS OF PEACE & FREEDOM is a small act of commemoration of the achievements of all those who built anew after war, focussing on what Maxwell Fyfe did in Nuremberg and Strasbourg.
It has been described by Thos Ribbits at MusicalTalk as:
'One of the most beautiful things I’ve heard…sublime'.
And by Helena Kennedy as:
'An amazing and really important piece of work…the most incredibly stimulating piece of history….stunning.’